Northern Ireland

Boston College to be sued over Belfast Project tapes

The tapes are being held at Boston College
Image caption The interviews with former republican and loyalist terrorists were conducted at Boston College

Boston College is to be sued by former paramilitaries who contributed to an oral history project of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The lead case is being taken by former IRA man Richard O'Rawe.

Mr O'Rawe alleges the university breached its contract with him by not advising him that his testimony might be released by a court order.

More than 40 former gunmen and bombers active during the Troubles gave interviews to the college.

Both republican and loyalist paramilitaries gave personal accounts to researchers working on the so-called 'Belfast Project'.

It was intended their accounts would not be released without their permission or until after their deaths.

After a legal battle, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) gained access to some of the tapes.

Mr O'Rawe is one of four people suing the college.

He said he had suffered "serious intimidation and distress together with reputational damage as is evidenced by recent widespread graffiti appearing in west Belfast".

He claims there was misrepresentation and breach of confidentiality together with negligence based on the failure of Boston College to advise him that what he said could be subject to court orders as part of other litigations.

As Boston College has a subsidiary company based in Dublin, under European law the case can be taken in the High Court in Belfast.

Some of the material gathered for the US project was used by Northern Ireland police to question Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

He was arrested at the end of April over the 1972 IRA murder of Jean McConville. He was released without charge and a file is being sent to prosecutors.

Speaking on Monday night, Mr O'Rawe said: "I entered into the project in good faith in order to contribute to an important historical narrative of the conflict.

"My contribution never mentioned anything at all about the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville, because I know nothing about it.

"Despite that, the police were still able to get my recordings. They should never have been allowed to do that.

"I blame Boston College for the mess and I want them held accountable for putting me in this position."

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